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Tulsa lawyers TRANSCRIPT: 6/16/20, All in w/ Chris Hayes

Guests: London Breed, Hakeem Jeffries, Michelle Lujan Grisham, Steve Benen, Tom Perez

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: That's the end of that statement. We will see if that book gets published. If it does, imagine it's helped its sales today. Thanks for being with us. Don't go anywhere, "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes is up next.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN. As protest push the president on police reform, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries on whether the Trump executive order means anything and the credibility crisis for police.

Then San Francisco Mayor London Breed on the changes she's already making in her city. Plus, armed militia on the streets of Albuquerque and a protester shot. Mexico's Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham will join me.

And DNC Chair Tom Perez on his plans to fight voter suppression in 2020, when "ALL IN" starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York, I'm Chris Hayes. Right now, we're in the midst of a once in a generational national conversation about policing and race and justice driven by the ongoing protests that began after the police killing of George Floyd. And for the first time in a long time, the fundamental role of police in our society is under question.

Police are in the spotlight. Even Republicans admit things have to change, something has to change. And yet even now, while we are all paying attention, all the smartphones are on while the lights are blaring, we keep getting new examples of police rushing to judgment or just outright lying to the public.

Last night, the labor union representing New York City detectives put out a statement claiming that three officers were intentionally poisoned by workers at a restaurant in Manhattan called Shake Shack. The largest union representing police in New York City, Police Benevolent Association, quickly ran with a claim in an oddly worded tweet reading "When New York City police officers cannot even take a meal without coming under attack, it is clear that environment in which we work has deteriorated to a critical level."

The poisoning charge was then further amplified by people like Sean Hannity and Donald Trump Jr., and it produced headlines in conservative and mainstream media outlets, which mostly took the cops at their word. It's a very serious charge should be leveling just to be clear. I mean, I would not tweet out that a place poisoned me intentionally without really checking that out. And yet they just kind of ran with it. They got sick after some Shake Shack milkshake, so they must have been intentionally poisoned.

Well, it turns out it was not true at all. "After a thorough investigation by NYPD's Manhattan South investigators, it has been determined there was no criminality by shake Shack's employees." Investigators believe a cleaning solution has not been fully cleared from the milkshake machine, which is what made the officer sick, which is bad, you know, all around, but an accident, not an intentional poisoning as the police immediately claimed.

And I know this story is kind of a small one. It has to do with milkshakes. It seems kind of a funny thing. But it's part of a much larger, more important issue, the legitimacy crisis that American police is facing in this moment. And we have seen example after example of police rushing to judgment or just out flat lying to our faces in total Trumpian fashion.

There are so many examples of this just from the protests alone. Like for instance to pick one somewhat at random. When Columbus, Ohio police tweeted out a photo of this bus, which they suggested was supplying riot equipment including bats, rocks, meat cleavers, axes, and clubs. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida pointed to this and sarcastically tweeted," But I guess, still no evidence of an organized effort to inject violence and anarchy into the protests, right?

Well, certainly not in this case, Senator. It turns out the bus is used by traveling street performers. The bus is named Buttercup. The clubs are juggling clubs, according to those familiar with the bus. The hatchet was next to a wood-burning stove the bus used. The meat cleaver was from a knife block used to prepare meals. The rocks were crystals and fossils.

And there are police claims that are far, far more sinister than this. Like for instance, when the buffalo police claimed that a 75-year-old peace activist named Martin Gugino, "tripped and fell" when this video clearly shows that is not what happened. He was shoved.

Today, by the way, Gugino's lawyer said Gugino is unable to walk after what the police did to him in that video. Or when Louisville police reported the incident -- released an incident report in the police killing of 26-year- old emergency room technician Breonna Taylor, who is fatally shot by police in her own home, which lists her injuries as none, even though she was shot at least eight times and died in our hallway floor in a pool of blood.

Report also claims no forced entry even though officers used a battering ram to knock in Taylor's apartment to execute a no knock warrant. And of course, this national conversation we're having about police authority, it all started with the police killing them George Floyd who's killing was recorded, who's killing prompted multiple 911 calls including from an off duty firefighter who told the dispatcher "I'm on the block of 38th in Chicago. I literally watch police officers not take a pulse and not do anything to save a man adding this dude, this they effing killed him."

Here's the audio of another call about George was treatment by police.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can call me if you want to, but we have the cameras up for 320s call. I don't know if they had to use force or not. They got something out of the back of the squad and all of them sat on this man.


HAYES: Another call that was just released, someone tells a dispatcher that an officer "pretty much just killed this guy that wasn't resisting arrest. He had his knee on the dude's neck the whole time." She got video of it and you've got multiple calls into dispatch contemporaneous with the event suggesting the police acted at the absolute very least in the appropriate way along with the video showing an officer kneeling on George Floyd's neck until he couldn't breathe.

And surveillance video suggesting he cooperated with the officers and did not risk resist arrest. And yet, listen to this. This is the initial statement the Minneapolis Police Department had the gall to release. "Two officers arrived and located the suspect, a male believed to be in his 40s in his car. He was ordered to step from his car. After he got out he physically resisted officers. Officers was able to get the suspect in handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress. Officers called for an ambulance. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later."

As if he just happened to die, because some sort of medical distress that just came out of nowhere. As if the officer Derek Chauvin did not keep his knee on George Floyd's neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds as he called out for his mama and said, I can't breathe. As if people didn't see this clear as day.

Of course, police like any institution, any government body, any bureaucracy, are going to make mistakes, lots of mistakes, but it's just not acceptable to have police lying so flagrantly and casually about matters large and small, and they keep doing it.

This legitimacy crisis has gotten so bad that even Donald Trump was forced to act or at least kind of, to go through the facsimile of acting that he knows. Today he signed an executive order, which is largely a kind of typical Trumpian thing, fainting an action, not really doing that much, declaring mission accomplished.

But consider how bad things have gotten that a president who presents himself as a strongest possible ally to police, has been endorsed by police unions up and down the country, who defends him every chance he gets and even tells them to rough up suspects when he addresses them, that man Donald Trump can no longer pretend to ignore exactly what we're all watching.

I'm joined now by Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat of New York, and the chair of the House Democratic Caucus. Let me start, Congressman on where we started on tonight's open. On the police union, you know, leveling this charge, it's a serious charge to say we're intentionally poison by employees. Like what does it say to you about the culture of the police union in New York or more broadly that they would just throw this out there?

I think we maybe have lost the congressman. Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, whose shot appears to be frozen. We're going to see if we can get him back or if we can get the next guest who is the mayor of San Francisco, Democrat London Breed. She has unveiled a roadmap for police reforms in her city. She announced among many other things, the police will no longer respond to criminal calls. San Francisco Mayor London breed joins me now.

Mayor, I want to make sure I have you do I have you?


HAYES: OK, excellent. Let me -- let me start on this -- on one of the things that you announced which I think is one of the more interesting ways that reform can go which is reducing the scope of police business, which is to say there are many calls that come in to dispatch, there are many things that happen that people want to report that are not crimes in progress, and you have talked about taking the police away for being the people that answer to those calls. Describe to me what that looks like.

BREED: So for example, I'm sure you heard, just recently in San Francisco, there was a woman who called the police on a man in front of his house because he was putting Black Lives Matter on his property. That is a call that the police should not be responding to. We have people who struggle with mental illness and addiction, who need treatment, who needs help, who need medical professionals and so our goal is to look at completely revamping our system so that when a 911 call is made, that our dispatchers are able to analyze that call and send out the appropriate response team and that does not always have to be the police.

HAYES: Do you have a sense of who that -- when you say appropriate response team, right. So if the idea is that there are lots of things that people are -- that are either in distress or someone notices an anomaly on the street or something that they feel that official should respond to. What the appropriate folks are -- do you need to like staff that up? Does that - - does that exist? Is that extent in your city or do you need to build that?

BREED: Well -- so it partially exists, but we also need to increase our capacity. We have a crisis intervention team of medical professionals that work with the Department of Public Health. They oftentimes are the ones out on the streets responding to crisis centered around people who suffer from mental illness and substance use disorder.

We have a Street Violence Intervention program. These are people from the community who could also respond to disputes that are non-violent, that are -- have no need for the police in various communities. And so it's really about restructuring what we already have available and enhancing what we have in order to respond to the situations that occur because in most instances, there isn't a need for a police response. So how do we make those adjustments in order to eliminate the amount of calls that police respond to that are not criminal activities?

HAYES: Do you have a sense of the numbers? I know that we've quoted -- we've quoted some -- a sheriff I think, from Louisiana, if I'm not mistaken who have just said, you know, the overwhelming majority of calls he saw in his multi-decade career were not like uniform crimes as listed in the -- you know, in the crime reporting of the FBI. Do you have a sense in your city what percentage of these calls you can sort of take away from the police and put in other hands?

BREED: Well, I think it's close to probably 50 percent of the call volume that comes in because I want to be clear, there are a number of crimes that still take place. We are a major city and there is a need for a police response, especially around violence or if there's any other situation of that nature.

But again, I go back to some of the calls, the increased number of calls that have taken place for people who are homeless, who are mentally ill who have other needs that police officers can't provide support for. That's where we can make the change. So I think it will dramatically decrease the number of calls that law enforcement responds to in the city, which will provide us an opportunity to also redirect resources to ramp up what we need to do to respond.

HAYES: Final question for your mayor. We've had you on the show before to talk about COVID and your city. We've seen that California has had some rising cases, most of those is being generated from areas outside San Francisco. How is San Francisco doing? How are you doing?

BREED: Well, we are weathering the storm. We have seen a slight increase in the number of cases over the past couple of months, very low number of new cases, a decline in the number of hospitalizations and the people who are in ICU beds. We've seen the number of deaths become steady.

So We're in a very, very good place here in San Francisco because of our quick action. And now we are pushing to reopen, because we know people are ready to get back to work, and we want to get our economy going, but we also want to make sure we do that safely.

So we know that the protests and the other things that have occurred in our city, you know, it's important that people are provided that opportunity. So we appreciate your words earlier in the introduction of your conversation and the fact that more people in the media are starting to highlight this conversation, and the need to make sure that we push for reforms all over the country.

HAYES: All right, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, thank you so much for your time tonight.

BREED: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: I'm going to go back to Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat of New York. And I think we have you back, Congressman. How are you doing?

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): Great to see you, Chris.

HAYES: Oh, good. I can see blinking. So let me -- let me start with where you started tonight's program on since it's a local question for you, and I think it has broad applicability. I've seen the tenor and rhetoric of police unions across the country. It doesn't matter where they are. They all basically sound the same. What does it say to you when the police union will go on and accuse some random workers at Shake Shack have intentionally trying to poison them without running that to ground? Like what does it say about the credibility of these people?

JEFFRIES: Well, their credibility is in question. There are police unions across the country and certainly in New York City, that have been a robust, consistent, unnecessary, unfortunate obstacle toward reform. And far too often they express interest in defending brutal officers, violent officers and abusive officers as opposed to being part of the solution in terms of holding those officers accountable.

HAYES: The President staged this event today to sign an executive order on police force. Most of the people I have read on it and I've read the texts of the executive orders say there's some things that may be a step in the right direction, but it depends on enforcement. It also depends on how seriously this administration takes it. Do you see it as something real to deal with?

JEFFRIES: It's a modest set of measures that at least relate to an understanding that there is a problem that has to be confronted. And as you indicated, Chris, the president even has acknowledged that seemingly with these baby steps that he's taken today.

But fundamentally, if things are going to transform, we need transformative laws. And that's why we're going to continue to push for the Justice and Policing Act. The House Judiciary Committee will pass it tomorrow. It will be on the floor next week. And we need to change our nation's laws in order to change the mindset that exists in police departments across the country, that violent officers will be held accountable, and that we want a mentality of policing that relates to a guardian approach, but not a warrior approach, which far too often leads to tragic consequences.

HAYES: So, walk me through how this proposed legislation would deal with this accountability issue because there are so many examples of police, you know, acting in a way that provoked censure or complaint and then not being removed from the force or not even being suspended or lying, and not having those lies, results in punishment. What would the legislation you're proposing do about that?

JEFFRIES: Well, two things. One, it will establish a national use of force standard, by which we're going to emphasize de-escalation and de-emphasize the use of force that often results in death or serious bodily injury. Once you establish that national use of force standard, and an officer crosses the line, then it becomes a lot easier to hold them accountable for engaging in brutality or violence.

We also expand the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice as well as state attorney generals so that they can prosecute row police officers who brutalized the community and to increase the likelihood of criminal accountability on the one hand. And at the same time, we reform and effectively abolish the doctrine of qualified immunity on the civil side, so that when someone civil rights have been violated, there is a right that exists and a remedy so they can be accountability on that side of the ledger as well.

HAYES: There was some conversation -- It was interesting to hear Kevin McCarthy talk about some of this. The way things work in modern legislating is that basically the party's leadership will sort of move legislation through unless you're dealing with some big kind of like Omnibus spending bill. Do you think you buy in from Republicans on any of this in the House?

JEFFRIES: Well, during the judiciary committee hearing that took place last week, there are House Republican colleagues of mine who expressed support for criminalizing the chokehold, which is in the Justice and Policing act. There was some expression of support for getting rid of qualified immunity so we can promote accountability when a police officer crosses the line.

There was also Republican expression of support for maintaining a database so that you can have a rogue police officer fired for engaging in conduct that is abusive, and then rehire in a neighboring jurisdiction. That of course happened with the Tamir Rice case, and the Cleveland Police Department hired somebody who had been terminated, and then of course, Tamir Rice was murdered.

So there is some glimmers of hope that we are seeing that my colleagues on the Republican side of the aisle recognize that this time must be different, that we should act, we should act decisively and comprehensively to try to address this problem.

HAYES: All right, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York, thank you for being with me tonight.

JEFFRIES: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: Next, New Mexico protests that ended in gunshots. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham on the injured protester, the armed militia, and the statue at the center of it all after this.


HAYES: Terrifying and violent scene in Albuquerque yesterday when people gathered to mend the removal of a statue of a brutal conquistador responsible for massacring indigenous people. An armed right-wing militia showed up to defend the statue and one-armed man shot a protester.

As a warning, some people may find the following video upsetting. Now, it's unclear what happened immediately before this. It appears the man in the blue shirt, Steven Baca Jr. was kind of defending the statue. Baca pushes a protester, the crowd turns on him, he's hit with a skateboard. About 15 seconds later, a protester tackled him.

And then Baca got up. He was holding a handgun and he fires four shots heard on the video. Shooting one protester who is still in critical condition tonight. Police took Baca into custody and detained several militiamen as well.

In a Facebook post, the militia group said Baca is not one of their members. Local news reports says he's a right-wing former city council candidate. Joining me now, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. Governor, what is your understanding of what happened last night and how is your state responding to it?

GOV. MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM (D-NM): Well, two things. Frankly, you got what we understand to be the facts as we're starting the investigation exactly right. We are incredibly horrified and disturbed. We're about to go into a budget special session. It starts on Thursday.

And police reform and racial injustice are going to be topics that we will get through in a couple of days to see if we can't do better than the militarization of our police and having militia engaged only to provoke violence at peaceful protests. These have to be addressed. The state has a clear role to make a difference here.

HAYES: Yes. I mean, in some ways, what was so unnerving about last night and it's something that's been going through my head through much of this is, you know, things are just different when people are armed. I think we would all agree, right?

If you see 1,000 people in the street protesting, that's one thing. If 1000 people in the street are protesting and they're all carrying guns, that's another. If 500 are on each side and they're all carrying guns, that's another entirely. Like, what do you -- how do you understand this in terms of the role that weapons play or folk coming armed to these kinds of events?

GRISHAM: So Chris, a couple of years ago, I was talking to that New Mexicans and folks across the country that this country, it occurs to me, has a very negative gun culture. And when I became elected governor, one of the first things I did was instruct our Department of Health to treat gun violence as the public health epidemic that frankly it is.

And there is no question that when you are gathering or marching or protesting, and there's a group of armed citizens with automatic weapons who are completely dressed in military gear, their only role is to provoke and to seek intimidation of individuals who are peacefully protesting.

And this horrific example that played out in Albuquerque, you know, I have been incredibly grateful that we haven't had such a situation, given the last 20 plus days in this country, and the incredible work of peaceful protesters. But make no mistake, this is not the first time this particular militia has been engaging in public.

And I think it's time we find a way to be clear. All our constitutional rights are valid. My constitutional right to be safe in my community needs to be upheld. And we have got to stop this intimidation and stop allowing armed men and women whose only purpose is to create havoc and harm at these gatherings.

It's unacceptable and we have no we have the ability to do something about it right now in this country. And New Mexico intends, I intend to do something about it.

HAYES: I want to read you something that a Simon Romero who's a New York Times reporter who I follow -- whose work I followed forever. He's been -- he's reported in Latin America for years. He said, "I've covered violent street protests in Caracas and Rio, I never felt as threatened as last night in Albuquerque. At one point, an armed militia member taunted me for working the New York Times. No police were insight. Why did authority cede control the scene to extremist gunman?"

Do you have an answer to that? Do you think that's a fair question?

GRISHAM: It's an incredibly fair question, and it's why the state is going to investigate this action last night and not allow the investigation by -- internally by the local police. Why did they allow the militia to be present? Where were they? Why did they only show up -- I'm hearing reports -- 21 minutes after 911 calls were made? Where were they?

When they showed up, it was more like a SWAT presence. Why were they shooting rubber bullets at peacefully fleeing protesters? Why did they allow the shooter, Mr. Baca, to engage with protesters before the actual horrific incident that has a young man fighting for his life in our hospital?

There were plenty of warning signs. And I fear that we have some folks in our law enforcement entities who I think have promoted potentially the efforts of these militias. And we intend to independently investigate that and determine exactly what's going on.

So, I agree with the New York Times reporter and I'm you know, lifelong New Mexican and I lived in Albuquerque for decades before having this incredible job, and I've never seen anything like that anywhere in our state. And no doubt the militia played a violent role in what occurred, and we will do something about it.

HAYES: New Mexico governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, thank you so much for making time for us tonight.

GRISHAM: Absolutely. Thank you for inviting me and thank you for everyone in the country who's fighting against these racial injustice issues and making sure that we have a fair and just and appropriately engaged police force. New Mexico will do its part.

HAYES: All right, thank you, Governor. Ahead, the sinister negligence of President Trump who decided the ongoing pandemic was too boring and plans to hold a massive indoor rally instead. The sputtering response to the administration and the Republicans who enable it, coming up.


HAYES: Breaking news tonight from the increasingly hard hit Sun Belt where Florida, Texas, and Arizona all set records today for the most new Coronavirus cases they have reported in a single day since the beginning of the outbreak. All three states reporting over 2,000 new cases.

At this point in the long battle against Coronavirus, some countries have successfully suppressed the disease. I mean, this is what the trajectory of new cases looks like in Italy and Spain, which were extremely hard hit, and Germany, which was not that hard hit. They've all come way down from their peaks earlier in the year. And then on the right side of your screen you see where we are in America just kind of a long plateau.

In Spain, Italy, and Germany, new cases are at least 94 percent below peak. In the U.S., we have only seen a 42 percent reduction.

We are increasingly acclimating to this plateau and just accepting a world that no one else has really accepted, where we still see around 20,000 new cases per day.

Now, to be clear here, it it true, a fair amount of that has to do with the fact in the U.S. we really have ramped up testing capacity in this country. It took awhile to start, way too late, but it's gone up quite a bit. It's still uneven, but I got tested this week. It was fast and easy. You should definitely do it if you think you have had any exposure.

But increase testing doesn't explain all these cases. Once again, the government is trying to make excuses.


TRUMP: Our testing is so far advanced, it's so much bigger and better than any other country, that we're going to have more cases, we're always going to have more cases. And as I said this morning, that's probably the downside of having good testing is you find a lot of cases that other countries, who don't even test, don't have. If you don't have, you don't have any cases. If we stopped testing right now, we'd have very few cases, if any.


HAYES: I mean, how nuts is that? There is no downside to testing and finding out where the virus is. If we stop testing right now, we would have very few cases. It seems almost insane in June to have to say this, but the virus is the problem, not the measurement, and identification thereof.

Of course, the vice president is in lockstep with Trump's messaging. Pence told governors on a phone call Monday to adopt the administration's claim that increased testing helps account of the new Coronavirus outbreak reports, even though evidence has shown the explanation is misleading.

Today, Pence wrote a nothing to see here op-ed in the Wall Street Journal headlined "There Is No Coronavirus Second Wave," which is true, more or less, because again we're still not out of the first wave that's washing across the country.

The evidence also shows increasingly masks really help to stop the spread, but once again, Vice President Pence not wearing one when he showed up at a small, cozy, intimate restaurant in Iowa today, neither was Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds for that matter. No masks, no problem.

We continue to get a clear picture about what is high risk and what is low risk. And it really does seem that wearing a mask and being outdoors, those two things, if you're wearing a mask, if you're outdoors, that's on the lower end of the risk spectrum. But, on the other end is being inside in a packed in space with people talking loudly for a sustained period of time, well that's about the riskiest thing you can do.

A group of at least 16 people learned that the hard way this week when they all tested positive for the virus after spending a night out a bar in Jacksonville Beach. OK, now magnify a bar by a couple of orders of magnitude, and you get a Trump rally -- thousands of people crowded inside a stadium, talking loudly for a sustained period of time, that is the plan for this Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma where Coronavirus cases are surging, and the city's health department director says he wishes the president would postpone.

The president and his team don't seem to think the virus is a real thing that needs to be dealt with anymore. We're past that. That's old news cycle. They're over it. They're not interested in solving problems any more, they want to own the libs, create their own alternate reality.

In some ways, the pandemic is the ultimate rebuttal of that, because it is very real, it's not going away no matter how much they spin.



TRUMP: Our testing is so far advanced, it's so much bigger and better than any other country, that we're going to have more cases. We're always going to have more cases. And as I said this morning, that's probably the downside of having good testing is you find a lot of cases that other countries, who don't even test, don't have. If you don't test, you don't have any cases. If we stop testing right now, we would have very few cases, if any.


HAYES: No, no, that's not the way it works. Even if you don't test, you still have cases, because that's the thing about reality.

We have one of the worst responses in the world to Coronavirus, thanks in large part to the administration's ongoing failure to recognize the reality of what we're dealing with. And part of this broader thing that's happened in the Republican Party, which just seems increasingly, totally unconcerned with the actual work of governing. When it comes to this pandemic, there are governors, including some Republicans like Larry Hogan and Charlie Baker and Mike DeWine of Ohio who are, you know, are on the same land mass we are all on, which is the continent of people that are trying to figure out how to deal with a complicated problem.

Then there are people that have just fallen off the land mass, who appear to think Coronavirus can be willed away or just ignored, who just not engaging in the same problem as we are. And they includes huge parts of the Republican Party, who are just no longer engaged in dealing with the complexity of governing more broadly.

To talk about this phenomenon, I'm joined by Steve Benen, who writes and produces the Maddow Blog for my friend and colleague Rachel Maddow. He also has a new book out today titled "The Imposters: How Republicans Quit Governing and Seized American Politics."

And I thought we'd start on the Coronavirus issue, because it seems to me like there's a kind of split there between the kind of Trumpian impulse and some things we have seen from the governors in places like Mississippi and in North Dakota and Iowa, and other members of the Republican Party who seem, even if they're not doing things the way I would, i would like, engage in the general question of like this is a hard governing problem, how do we figure it out?

STEVE BENEN, AUTHOR: I think you're right. There are a handful of Republican governors, who I am happy to give credit to, people like Larry Hogan in Maryland and elsewhere, but I think by and large they are the exceptions that prove the rule. I think we can -- for every Maryland, there's a Florida and an Arizona and a Texas where we see state officials who are -- Republicans who are not taking the crisis seriously.

And of course at the head of the party is Donald Trump. And we see him leading an operation in a White House that has been completely disengaged in policymaking. And I think, you know, when I was making -- when I putting together my book, one of the things I kept coming back to is that a governing party values data and evidence and expertise, and I think across the board, when it comes to the Coronavirus, the pandemic, those are the areas in which the administration has fallen short the worst.

HAYES: Yeah, you've got this situation now -- you just referenced Texas, right. So, Texas has -- it's not just the cases have gone up, though they have, even as testing capacity has gone up a bit, but hospitalizations, there's some reason to think that things are not looking great in Texas. Just I think a little, short while ago, the mayors of Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, El Paso, Arlington, Plano, and Grand Prairie send a letter to Governor Abbott asking for the power to require people to wear masks publicly in their cities, which they don't have, which again like it shouldn't be that this is a big fight. I mean, this is not -- this is just a sort of simple public health measure, and yet it perfectly kind of epitomizes your thesis which is that it -- a party that won't do that is not a party that's really actually committed to governing in any real way.

BENEN: Exactly. You know, the overarching point of my book is that Republicans have made this transition from a governing party to what I c all a post policy party. And by that I mean, they've given up on taking governing seriously, or policymaking seriously in any way. They're just indifferent to the substance of governing. And I think this is a classic example of that,.

I mean, masks are such a simple step. It would save so many lives. They would make such a difference in public health. And yet, in so many instances, we see Republicans in positions of authority are just saying, you know, that's too much, that's not a step we're prepared to take, even as local officials effectively beg them to be more responsible, they refuse.

HAYES: And we're seeing that -- I mean, the Tulsa rally, I honestly -- I don't know, I guess they're going to do this thing. But first of all, the venue doesn't have any other events until 2021, because it's not safe to have them there. But this is more than just like, well, we're no longer interested in policy, this is even one step sort of more nefarious, which is I'm going to convene an actually unsafe possible super-spreader event, which I could do outside, but I'm not going to. It seems almost a step past post-policy.

BENEN: Perhaps, perhaps. I mean, if the virus had hired lobbyists to create an event for the virus, this is the event that they would hold. Now, we talked a moment ago about the expertise and data and the importance of evidence. This is a classic example. The data says there is an increasing crisis in Oklahoma. The evidence shows they're indoors with 19,000 people with no mitigating effects, any local experts are saying please don't do this it's dangerous for the community and perhaps the country, and yet, because Donald Trump is lead thing post-policy government, because he's so indifferent to policymaking and expertise, they're going through with it any way and they don't seem to care.

HAYES: Is there a way to wrench them back? I mean, that is sort of the question, right. Like they -- this idea that we can govern with 44 percent of the country and the electoral college and a bunch of our federal society vetted judges on the federal bench and we can get away with it. Can they?

BENEN: Well, in the short term, yes. I mean, insofar as they've won several elections and they're in positions of authority, they have power. So yes, to that extent, they have had some success on this front. But in the last chapter in my book, I talk about some of the solutions I think to the post- policy problem. And the overarching solution, the key solution, is that parties change when voters tell parties they have to change. And so I think right now, we look at the polls, we see evidence that the Republican message is not working, that voters are not satisfied with what they're seeing, I think that the party will change when voters tell them they have to, and we'll see in November.

HAYES: We will see. Steve Benen, whose new book "The Impostors: How Republicans Quit Governing and Seized American Politics" is out today, quite timely. Thank you for making time, Steve.

BENEN: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: Still ahead, the pandemic elections, the brazen Republican effort to suppress the vote, while primary voters are turning out in record numbers. DNC chair Tom Perez joins me to discuss after this.


HAYES: There have been plenty of grim stories this election year in the middle of a pandemic as people literally risk their health and their lives to wait in line for hours to vote. There's also been this amazing turnout happening despite the ridiculous hurdles. I mean, just last week, right, we saw these images of a complete systematic meltdown of the voting process in the state of Georgia, but it turns out that between absentee and in-person voting big "D" Democratic voters set a new primary turnout record actually out-pacing Republicans in the state.

And Georgia isn't the only state that has seen record turnout. Earlier this month, Iowa set its own record for a June primary. And in fact, the Republican secretary of state of Iowa, who oversees the state's elections, he was bragging about it rightly, tweeting this firework GIF to Iowa's voters. We did it, guys. We got a lot of people to vote.

But he apparently didn't get the memo from his own party, because lots of people voting is not what Iowa Republicans want. And so now they're moving to shut that down until they can figure out what's going on.

Last week, Iowa senate Republicans passed a bill that would prohibit the secretary of state, that guy with the firework tweet, from mailing absentee ballot request forms without a specific request from a voter. And then just before they headed off for summer recess, the Iowa legislature passed a measure to make voting even harder, including requiring early in-person voters to show ID.

And Iowa is just the latest example of this crazy situation where one party wants as many people as possible to vote safely in a pandemic and one party just does not.

Here now is someone from the party that does want people to vote, Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Do you -- do you see it that way? Or is it more -- more textured and nuanced than that? I know that, like, the Republican secretary of state in Ohio, for instance, has been mailing out absentee ballot applications and things like that, but how do you see it?

TOM PEREZ, DNC CHAIRMAN: I think you're spot on, Chris. I mean, Republicans for decades have wanted to make it harder for people to vote. And they're not subtle about it. Our leverage in the elections, quite frankly, goes up as the voting populous goes down, I don't want everyone to vote. Those are -- those are verbatim statements from Republicans from decades ago. That's the philosophy. They want less -- they want to make it harder for people to vote, especially people of color.

That's why you have the Joni Ernst protection act of 2020 in Iowa, because Joni Ernst is in trouble. and they've got to make it harder for people to vote. That's why you see in Georgia another -- the latest chapter in the voter suppression manual started by Brian Kemp led by others.

We see this everywhere. We saw the attempted weaponization of the pandemic in Wisconsin. But it didn't work. And that's the pivot. It didn't work, because we are ready for it as Democrats. We are doing a number of things. We're filing lawsuits. In Wisconsin, 142,000 people were able to exercise their right to vote, Chris, because of our lawsuit. We're organizing everywhere.

We have a purge tool that we released today, Chris, that is going to help in every state. You can go into Georgia and say I want all of the African- American voters who have been taken off the rolls over a period of time. And this tool will help you find that.

These are the tools that we are working with to make sure we combat voter suppression.

HAYES: So -- so -- so that tool would be, like, for -- for lawyers or for campaigns or ProPublica or civic groups that could say -- they could actually just -- that data is public, but it's hard to access and so this would be a tool to access it and to see?

PEREZ: Chris, one of the most important requirements of effective voter protection is to make it easy. You can't have to have a PhD in order to access these tools. And so civic organizations, advocacy organizations, anyone can use this tool. We're now embarking in a massive training effort to make sure people understand this tool so that you can go in Georgia and say I want all the African-American voters in Fulton County who have been taken off the rolls.

And people need to learn this tool. If you text 433 -- if you text vote "to 43367," you can learn more about this tool. It's critically important.

HAYES: One of the -- one of the lawsuits that the Democratic Party's involved is in in Texas where you've got this sort of crazy situation in which like Texas law allows senior citizens to have a no excuse absentee ballot, which means anyone over 65 can, and basically the policymakers, the Republican policymakers in the state don't want it to be the case that younger than 65 people can have that option in the midst of a pandemic in a state that is seeing its cases go up. You have sued, is that correct, to try to sort of force this issue in higher courts, at the Supreme Court?

PEREZ: Right. Right. The plaintiff in that case is the Democratic Party of Texas. They are led by a great chairman. And the 26th Amendment prohibits discrimination by age in voting. So I think on the merits they have a really good case.

Here's the challenge, the Supreme Court justice that oversees the fifth circuit -- now, the party won at the trial level and then the fifth circuit, which is Darth Vader for any voting rights, they stayed the ruling of the district court.

And Samuel Alito is the person who will oversee the efforts on the fifth circuit. So, you'll have to forgive me if I'm not holding my breath that Justice Alito is going to come to the rescue. But you know what, we're going to swing the bat and I applaud the party for their efforts because this is so critically important.

HAYES: Final question for you is on the aftermath of election day and what the new normal looks like. We saw in Wisconsin it took a very long time to count votes. In Georgia, we still have counties that have not fully reported. How important is it to you to acclimate everyone -- the media, all of the institutions, to understanding that this fall there is a lot we won't know that night and it's going to probably going to take a while if we're looking at much, much higher levels of absentee voting?

PEREZ: Right. Organize, organize, organize, Chris. What we're doing now, we have our virtual clipboards out, and in basically every state we are educating people on how to vote early, how to vote by mail. The most important acronym in the state of Arizona is PEVL -- P-E-V-L -- the permanent early voting list. We're trying to get as many people as possible on the permanent early voting list so you'll be mailed a ballot. You can vote early, vote easy. And that is so critical.

That is -- we need to make sure -- we have to be prepared, Florida, Texas and Arizona saw their largest number of Coronavirus cases today.

HAYES: Yeah.

PEREZ: We've got to be prepared. If you want to vote in person, you should be able to on election day. If you want to vote early, we should have maximum early voting days. And if you want to vote by mail, we should make it easy to do that as well. That's the definition of success.

HAYES: All right. Tom Perez of the DNC, thank you so much for taking time tonight.

PEREZ: Always a pleasure.

HAYES: That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.